Chicago P.D. star Tracy Spiridakos talks season five of the hit NBC show and why she loves filming in the Windy City.
One of the coolest things about the NBC “One Chicago” franchise is that it’s made up of three powerhouse ensemble casts. Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. all have had strong, tight-knit groups of actors from their first seasons—which could, in theory, make it difficult for new people to join. But that certainly wasn’t the case for Tracy Spiridakos, who joined Chicago P.D. mid-season four as the straight-shooting Detective Hailey Upton. This fall, she started her first full season on the show, and it’s clear this Spiridakos has staying power. Here, she talks about becoming the newest member of the fictional police force, what to expect from Upton in season five, and her favorite things to do with her downtime, in and out of Chicago.
The “One Chicago” franchise has become such a huge fixture in Chicago and on TV. What has it been like coming on as the "new girl"?
TRACY SPIRIDAKOS: I was intimidated at first just because it is such a big family, but everyone’s been amazing. [When I was] meeting everybody from all the different shows as well, even just on the lot, I was greeted with big warm hugs. It’s a really beautiful group of people, that as soon as I got here, I felt instantly comfortable.
The cast seems to have such a great time with each other. Do you have any fun on-set stories you can share from your time so far?
TS: I mean, non-stop laughing. I can’t think of [a] particular story...but we just tease each other a lot. I’m a big tomboy—I’ve grown up with two brothers—so we're always play fighting, and we're teasing each other. It’s just been a ton of fun. In between takes there’s just non-stop laughing.
What can we expect from your character, Hailey, as this season progresses?
TS: Hailey is a straight shooter—she’ll tell you what she’s thinking. One of the things that I love about her is that she isn’t there to necessarily make friends. If she makes a friendship in the meantime, great, but she’s there to do a good job and she’s passionate about what she does. So if there’s something that's happening—which we will see coming up [when] there's a conflict between her and Ruzek [played by Patrick Flueger] that comes up and we see them butt heads about a situation—she has no problem laying out what she thinks, and that’s one of the things that I love about her. She’s smart and she uses her intuition a lot, so she’s been a really great deal of fun to play.
I’ve heard the training to play a cop on the show can be pretty intense. What has your experience been like?
TS: Yeah, it’s been really interesting. I had some training with [police technical advisor] Brian Luce when I first got on the show, and he’s amazing. He’s such an amazing asset to have—even just knowing how to properly hold a gun and how to enter a situation...and he goes through in detail how you should be standing and why, and really explains it to you. I’ve found that very, very valuable. [...] I think [the rest of the cast] went through more extensive training when they were starting, but I started in the middle of the season last year, so I’m still learning as I go.
Before doing the show, had you spent much time here in Chicago?
TS: Yeah, I had actually. My boyfriend is from here; he’s from Wheaton, so we’ve come out to the city and spent some time before. I love Chicago; I think it’s a beautiful city and [I love] the people here. It somehow reminds me—even though I know they’re very different—it reminds me of Winnipeg [Canada, where Spiridakos is from] somehow. I don't know if it's the people or just the air; I don't know, but it has a familiarity to it...that I've really loved. And it’s been interesting learning the Chicago ways as well. I’ve been taught that I can’t put ketchup on my hot dog, which is very important, apparently! We went to a Cubs game and they had the ketchup—I loaded it on, and I was schooled about it.
What are some of your favorite things to do in the city?
TS: The architectural [boat] tours...I really love those. I’ve done it a couple times just on my own when I first got here and with friends [who] have come in to visit. I feel like everytime you go, you learn something new. I’ve really enjoyed doing those. Cubs games—[it’s] fantastic. Being at Wrigley Field is awesome. And then for me it’s kind of a throw to Revolution—we kind of walked past Wrigley Field [on the show], so it was really cool being there, because I had never really been there other than in pretend. And...a couple restaurants to go to: The Purple Pig, Owen & Engine, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co., [and] Portillo’s.
Tracy Spiridakos stars as Detective Hailey Upton on Chicago P.D.
Why do you think Chicago is such a good setting for this franchise?
TS: I think the city itself...there’s a ton going on. I especially love that this season [Chicago P.D. showrunner] Rick [Eid] wants to do Chicago 2017. I love that he wants to talk about things that are happening in the city right now. I think that’s important. And I think that Chicago itself is just a very culturally rich city, and there’s a ton of things going on.
Not necessarily Chicago-specific, but if there's anything you can do with your downtime, what is it?
TS: I love traveling so very much. [...] I love going to different places, meeting people from all over the world—it’s something that I am very passionate about. [...] Even if [I have] a week off, I'm like, “Okay, where are we going that I haven’t been?” So that’s huge for me. And then outside of that...on my downtime, honestly I play video games when I get home from work. I play Destiny and I like to just veg out a little bit—but I think it’s because whenever I have more than a couple days off, I’ll take off and go somewhere.
I know this is a pretty impossible question, but do you have a favorite trip you've taken so far, or maybe just a recent trip that you've really loved?
TS: Yeah, I can’t pick one because I feel like I’ve had so many different interesting experiences all around. One of my favorite places that I’ve been to [is] an island called Bunaken, when I was traveling in Indonesia. We went diving there, and it was really lovely. The people were beautiful, and I had an incredible time there. So that particular spot has a special place for me.
Photography by: Photography by Matt Dinerstein/NBC